Hizbollah hits Israeli border with mortar attack

An Israeli soldier has been killed and up to three more wounded in exchanges of automatic and shell fire with Hizbollah gunmen across the Lebanese border.

The most serious gun battle in six months on the northern front erupted yesterday when a patrol intercepted an armed Hizbollah cell that had infiltrated Israel. In what an army spokesman defined as a coordinated attack, the Iranian-backed militia fired a barrage of mortars at Israeli positions all along the border. Israeli forces retaliated with shells and missiles.

The offensive came at a time when the stand-off between Ariel Sharon's government and right-wing opponents of his plan to evacuate the Gaza Strip is turning vicious. Jewish extremists are fighting the army and provoking local Palestinians in Gaza and disrupting traffic on roads across Israel.

Four Palestinians and two Israelis, a soldier and a civilian, were wounded during a second day of rioting between Jewish squatters and Arab villagers in Muwassi, a Palestinian enclave in the main Gush Katif settlement block. Two of the Palestinians were reported to be in a critical condition.

Police, escorted by soldiers, went there at noon to arrest Israelis suspected of stoning Palestinians on Tuesday and in a vain attempt to prevent further disturbances. The Israeli activists, who came from outside the Gaza settlements, had commandeered an empty three-storey Arab house and barricaded themselves in.

As the force approached, Jews and Arabs began pelting each other with stones. After police arrested eight Jews, the riot became more violent. Soldiers, who tried to separate the combatants, fired shots in the air. After the wounded had been evacuated, a measure of quiet was restored, but the squatters remained in the Arab house. Fayez Shaath, a community leader, complained: "The Israelis are not withdrawing. They are destroying our property. We can't even get to our only clinic."

Army officers say they are awaiting orders from politicians to evict the squatters and to remove dozens of Israeli radicals who have turned an abandoned settlement hotel into a seaside fortress. They are also preparing to seal the settlement block to stop hundreds of anti-disengagement families pouring in now that schools are breaking up for summer holidays.

Inside Israel, thousands of settlers, decked in orange caps and T-shirts, paralysed major roads during the evening rush hour, blocking the entrance to Jerusalem. Earlier in the day, they scattered nails and oil on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road.

A radical fringe has taken the struggle further. Police have arrested a man on his way to sabotage telephone junction boxes outside government offices. Security has also been stepped up for Lt-Gen Dan Halutz, the chief of staff, after he received an anonymous letter reading: "You are following the Prime Minister's path. If you care about your family, you will refrain from this."

Maj-Gen Dan Harel, the chief of Southern Command, has banned one of the most high-profile firebrands, Itamar Ben-Gvir, from entering the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank, where Israel is also evacuating four settlements. "This is just a beginning," one officer said. "Other restriction orders are in the pipeline. We know who the extremists are."

News
people And here is why...
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all failed
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of EAL

£35000 - £45000 per annum + CPD, Negotiable Salary, Live in Role! : Randstad E...

Room Leader

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Room leaderI am currently l...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse requiredI am ...

LSA Level 3 required in Caerphilly

£50 - £60 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: O...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?